Callie Cares Means We Will Never Forget
Jan 30, 2013

callie_van_tornhoutCallie was considered a miracle baby. It took Katie and Craig Van Tornhout five years and four miscarriages before they finally welcomed their precious daughter Callie into their lives.
However, their joy turned to heartache three years ago today, when Callie died of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) at only five weeks of age.

On Monday, we remembered two infant boys, Carter and Brady, with our Two for Two Pertussis Protection Program as we asked our readers to help spread the word about the importance of a one-time adult Tdap vaccination. (CDC now also recommends that pregnant women get a Tdap vaccination during every pregnancy.) Now, on the anniversary of Callie’s death, we want to remind our readers that these tragedies don’t just happen “one day”.  Sadly, vaccine preventable diseases are threatening the health of our children day after day.  And sometimes, as in Callie’s case, they strike quickly and leave us wondering how something so tragic could have happened.

After having the honor of meeting Katie and Craig last year, I can tell you that they are some very proud parents.  Callie is still very much a part of their lives and always will be.   Callie has an older brother named Cole, a younger sister Chesney, and another sibling on the way.  And you can bet that the Van Tornhout’s will ensure that anyone who wants to see their baby will be up-to-date on their Tdap vaccine.


Katie volunteers to help increase pertussis awareness in her community.

They say that something good comes out of every sorrow and in the case of the Van Tornhout’s, I know this to be true.  I believe that what we do in the face of adversity can often provide a glimpse into our true character.  And the love the Van Tornhout’s show towards others goes far beyond the love they have for Callie.  To help turn a terrible situation into one of hope and love, the Van Tornhout’s created Callie’s Crusades, in which they help increase pertussis awareness in their community.

And since the Van Tornhout’s stayed at the Ronald McDonald House when Callie was in intensive care, they created an organization called Callie Cares to help other guests of the Ronald McDonald House.  Now it’s a family affair.  They do their part by gathering donations of travel size toiletries and assembling them into care bags for the guests.  Their care packages include everything from shampoo, conditioner, bath soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, razors, lotion and anything else that may make for a more comfortable stay.

CallieCaresIf you would like to help Callie Cares and provide donations to the Ronald McDonald house, please inquire at so that we can put you in touch with the Van Tornhout family.

Hopefully, after reading Callie’s story it will be another reminder to explain the importance of a Tdap vaccination to everyone who’ll listen.  Most people just don’t know that an adult Tdap vaccination can not only help protect them from pertussis, but it can also reduce the spread of a life-threatening illness for an infant child who is not yet fully vaccinated.

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